FSC, ASACP Blast Gail Dines' CounterPunch Article

Rhett Pardon

CANOGA PARK, Calif. — The Free Speech Coalition and ASACP both have come out in staunch opposition to an article published last week by political news website CounterPunch.com that says that the porn industry has tried to burnish its public image by promoting itself as a good corporate citizen that can be trusted to self-regulate.

The article, written by Gail Dines, who testified for the government in the FSC's challenge over 18 U.S.C. §§ 2257 and 2257(a), and professor David Levy, who chairs the University of Massachusetts' Department of Management and Marketing, focuses on the supposed might of the adult entertainment industry and the behavior by the two trade groups, specifically when it comes to prioritizing efforts to overturn the federal record-keeping law for producers.

Dines and Levy in the article, titled "The Porn Industry: Rare Defeat for Corporate Lobbyists,"said that the recent trial over the legality of 2257 highlights how porn has become "big business, flexing its political muscles to fight regulation it sees as costly with wanton disregard for the consequences."

"This 'just trust us' approach helps resolve the paradox of the good cop-bad cop strategy of the industry’s twin non-profits, ASACP and FSC," Dines and Levy wrote. "If the industry wants to self-police, it needs to win the public’s trust that it can act with social responsibility and challenge governmental regulation. But as Judge Baylson ruled, when a powerful industry is willing to do whatever it takes to maximize profits, self policing is not enough."

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson on July 18 found that the 2257 statutes are constitutional under the First Amendment, a ruling that likely will be appealed.

Dines' and Levy's CounterPunch article has run afoul with leaders, as well as supporters, of the FSC and ASACP.

ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning told XBIZ that the authors' hit piece has "unfairly characterized" the ASACP, the FSC and the online adult entertainment industry in general.

"Dines’ campaign of misinformation misses the fact that legitimate adult entertainment producers do not object to verifying the age of their performers at the time of production, but in the case of 2257, may have objections over details that are unworkable in the digital era, even if they were suited to yesteryear’s world of print-based publishing," he said.  

"Disturbingly, Dines considers ASACP to be an example of blatantly cynical behavior, mistakenly tying the association to what she calls efforts 'to undo the very regulations that attempt to shield children from being exploited,'" he said.

"ASACP has never sought to fight regulation, but rather seeks to shape it in realistic and workable ways that serve to protect at-risk youth, without imposing unrealistic burdens on publishers due to legislator’s misunderstanding of today’s digital media ecosystems."

Diane Duke, who leads the FSC as its CEO, echoed Henning's take on contents of the CounterPunch article and said that Dines' "extremism will work in our favor in the long run."

"Gail Dines is, and always has been, anti-adult entertainment," Duke told XBIZ. "We knew going into this trial that Judge Baylson would likely rule against us as he had previously ruled.

"Our goal was to build a solid case for appeal. Dines dismisses the good work of ASACP and the FSC around industry self-regulation in an attempt to support her pro-censorship agenda."

Dines, of course, has been active through the years trying to set an agenda to decrease the "pornification of the culture." The professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College in Boston also is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture and author of "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality."

Calling the CounterPunch piece article "biased," Henning noted that the ASACP, formally known as the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, is not about providing lip service to stakeholders but about providing concrete solutions that help digital media publishers, institutions and parents work together to keep children out of and away from age-restricted materials.

"[C]ountless consumers view the ASACP logo as a sign that a site does not contain content depicting underage performers, shielding the viewer from inadvertent exposure to this material and providing trust in the product," he said. "This symbol is widely sought out by consumers as a sign of assurance, representing businesses that are committed to doing the right thing when it comes to protecting children."

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